Manchester United will be desperate to return to winning ways when they take on Brentford at the Brentford Community Stadium on Wednesday.
The ongoing midweek round of fixtures is a part of the elongated Gameweek 22, which is holding rescheduled matches. Brentford and Manchester United will play one such game at the Brentford Community Stadium on Wednesday, in a game that was originally earmarked for last month.
Brentford have proven to be adept at taking to the challenge of the Premier League despite their modest history. The Bees have won only six of their 21 top-flight games thus far this term but have given several bigwigs a run for their money. But Thomas Frank’s men have encountered a slump, losing their last four league games, with the latest being a 3-0 defeat to Liverpool.
On the other hand, Manchester United’s transition under Ralf Rangnick has been slow, even though they have lost only one of the eight games the German tactician has overseen. The Red Devils have struggled to put away teams, with the most recent example coming in the form of a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, as they squandered a two-goal lead to drop two points.
Wednesday’s match will be the maiden Premier League clash featuring Brentford and Manchester United. Ahead of the first ever meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
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"Everyone that was available for Liverpool is available again which is good news. We are all a tiny bit disappointed; we thought there was a chance to create a surprise at Anfield, but we didn’t take it. We will go again tomorrow"#BrentfordFC #BREMUN pic.twitter.com/bR72x8tNaf
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) January 18, 2022
Thomas Frank does not have any new roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Manchester United. On Wednesday, the Brentford manager will be without the services of six first-team players.
David Raya (knee), Charlie Goode (hamstring), Mathias Jorgensen (thigh), Julian Jeanvier (knee) and Josh Dasilva (hip) remain on the sidelines due to their respective fitness issues. In addition, Frank Onyeka is with Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Alvaro Fernandez will continue to deputise for David Raya in the Brentford goal. In front of the Spaniard, the hosts will line up in their usual 3-5-2 formation, with Kristoffer Ajer, Pontus Jansson and Ethan Pinnock forming the central defensive partnership. The three centre-backs will aim to remain compact while also having the license to foray forward when presented a chance.
The two wing-backs will drop deep during the defensive phases to form a back five to essentially rob Manchester United of valuable space to work around. The two wing-backs will be Mads Roerslev Rasmussen and Sergi Canos, with the game coming too soon for Rico Henry. The duo will carry a threat with their deliveries, bringing the two strikers into the game.
Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbuemo will form the strike partnership, with Toney often dropping deep to link up play. Finally, the three central midfielders will be Vitaly Janelt, Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard. The trio will look to outnumber Manchester United in midfield and absorb the pressure created by Bruno Fernandes.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Fernandez; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Rasmussen, Janelt, Norgaard, Jensen, Canos; Toney, Mbeumo
Unlike his counterpart in the Brentford dugout, Ralf Rangnick has been handed a major boost on the team news front ahead of the trip to the Brentford Community Stadium. The Manchester United interim boss will be without just two first-team players on Wednesday.
The good news is that Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are available. While Ronaldo and Rashford have resumed training after overcoming minor injuries, Shaw and McTominay are back at Rangnick’s disposal after serving their respective one-match suspensions.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 18, 2022
In further good news, Paul Pogba has rejoined training this week, although the game against Brentford has come too soon for him. The only other absentee for Manchester United is Eric Bailly, who is in Cameroon representing Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Bailly’s absence hardly poses a threat for Rangnick, with Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire likely to pair up at the heart of the Manchester United defence. Out wide, there is no looking past Diogo Dalot and Shaw, with the duo carrying a lot of threat on their forays down their flanks. The four defenders will cover David de Gea.
Up ahead in midfield, Fred and McTominay will form the double-pivot, with the duo looking to be proactive in the middle of the park and not let their opposite numbers get on top of them. Bruno Fernandes will reprise his usual no. 10 role, with Rangnick expected to opt for a slightly tweaked 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Portuguese playmaker will likely be flanked by Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho, with Anthony Martial also an option despite recent claims by Rangnick saying he did not want to be in the squad for the game against Aston Villa. Finally, Cristiano Ronaldo will spearhead the Manchester United attack, with Edinson Cavani dropping to the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, McTominay; Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo
- Wednesday’s match will be the first league meeting between Brentford and Manchester United since April 1947, a goalless draw at Griffin Park in the top-flight. Manchester United won the last time they faced Brentford in any competition, winning a League Cup tie 2-1 at Old Trafford in September 1975 thanks to goals from Lou Macari and Sammy McIlroy.
- Brentford have won three of their last four Premier League home games, having won only one of their first six at the Brentford Community Stadium.
- Manchester United are one short of becoming the first club to record 300 Premier League away victories. The Red Devils are one of two clubs, along with Leicester City, to have scored in all of their Premier League away games this season.
- Brentford have conceded a league-high 21 first-half goals. They have let in the opening goal in 13 of their last 14 league matches.
- Only Liverpool (57) have won a Premier League game in more different stadiums than Manchester United (54), with Brentford Community Stadium the 60th different ground where the Red Devils will have played in the competition.
Player to Watch
Manchester United will likely embark on a squad overhaul in the summer transfer window after what is proving to be a nightmarish season. Hardly any player has a secure future at Old Trafford at the moment, and time might be running out for Jadon Sancho to prove he can be the next big thing at Manchester United and not peter out like Anthony Martial.
The English international has all the makings to be the single most influential member of the first-team setup at Old Trafford. But he has blown hot and cold at an alarming rate, which has piled on the pressure on him further. With Ralf Rangnick having all his attacking personnel at his disposal, Sancho barely has any margin for error ahead of the latest fixture.
Brentford 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester United are starting to make a habit of losing points at the most crucial junctures of the top four race, with the latest instance coming this past weekend against Aston Villa. Brentford will thus feel that they have a chance of toppling Manchester United and will take the game to their visitors.
But in doing so, they will leave several gaping holes at the back, one that Cristiano Ronaldo will capitalise on this Wednesday. And Edinson Cavani will likely come off the bench to wrap up the game and seal all three points at the end of a hard-fought encounter. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Manchester United.
(Featured Images Courtesy Andy Scott/Wikimedia)